“Steppin’ Out” Column for August 31, 2012

“Man does not live by coffee alone. Have a Danish.”
Oft quoted “Unknown”

Fire Dawg Coffee Company

For several weeks I have driven by this new business at 493 Main Street (the corner of Highway 49 and China Garden Road) in Diamond Springs. I thought I would give them a bit of time to get organized and now the time seemed right, so last week I stopped by to see how things were going. I was a bit like “old home week.”

Matt Silva, his wife Gracie and sons Jeff and Bobby run this small café that serves coffee and coffee drinks, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, smoothies, milkshakes, Hawaiian shaved ice, baked goods and more.

In 2006 Matt retired from his job as Fire Chief in Cameron Park and, in his words, “I just wanted to do something.” His wife Gracie, who he will tell you hides in the kitchen creating wonderful things, is a paralegal and used to work with me at a local attorney’s office before going to work for the State of California.

I had quite a nice chat with Matt about important things like, “Why is it shave ice in Hawaii, but shaved ice here?” and, “What is the difference between that and a snow cone?”

It turns out that shaved ice is finer and the flavoring syrup stays in the top and doesn’t end up dripping on your brand new shirt and pants. And, because of that, it can be supplemented with a scoop of ice cream in the bottom, which I will get into later. Why the spelling difference? Only the Hawaiians know.

“We are still working on the menu,” said Matt. “At lunch we are serving salads, along with sandwiches made with turkey, roast beef, pastrami and Gracie’s own recipe chicken salad, served on your choice of sourdough, rye or wheat bread, or a ciabatta or French roll. We are trying to find out what our growing number of regular customers want, and then will adjust our menu to suit them.”

I had to try Gracie’s chicken salad on a ciabatta roll. I love chicken salad, especially when someone else makes it, and it was really good: lots of chunks of roasted chicken. When I had finished, Matt said I should try a shaved ice and brought me the menu.

There were a lot of flavors to select from, and even combinations of flavors with names like “Batman,” “Spiderman” and “Red Velvet,” but when I saw “dreamsicle” I went for it. Matt added a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it was closer to a childhood orange and vanilla ice cream bar than anything I have tried lately, even the ice cream bar itself.

As I finished my shaved ice, Gracie brought out one of her new creations, a meatball slider on a pretzel roll. It came with extra marinara sauce and grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but I was too full to enjoy it and had it packed for later (I keep foam shipping boxes in my car just for times like this).

I had it for dinner that evening and it was so good I drove back the next day just to tell Gracie. And, while I was there, tried a sample of the delicious pizza that they are thinking about adding to the menu.

While looking around at the many interesting pictures and fire related relics on the wall, I noticed that their coffee came from El Dorado Coffee & Tea Co. in El Dorado Hills.

“They buy their beans directly from small producers they have visited and roast them themselves.” said Matt, “That insures consistency in their products and our customers really like their coffee and tea. We also buy many of our baked goods from Sugar Lillie Bakery in the town of El Dorado and are trying to find local sources for more of what we need.”

Coffee Dawg Coffee Company is open Monday through Friday from 7 until 4, but they are thinking about adding Sunday to the list.

As I was leaving I asked Matt why the logo on their hats and shirts read, Coffee Dawg Coffee Co. 1. He said, “Who knows, be we might open more than one.”

For more information give them a call at (530) 306-7242.

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M.O.R.E. Chili Cook Off at Burke Junction in Cameron Park

This year’s M.O.R.E. Chili Cook Off will again be at  Burke Junction in Cameron Park.

It takes place on Saturday, September 8, starting at 10 a.m. with a classic car show and then, at noon, you can taste all the chili, which by that time will have hopefully been judged by a panel of local celebrities. But, you get to do the real judging, the People’s Choice, and you also get to vote for the best classic car.

There will be live music, courtesy of “Out of the Blue,” along with cold drinks, hot dogs and snacks, a bounce house, train rides and a drawing for valuable prizes.

Admission is a suggested donation of $7.00 per adult (under 10 are $5 person and under 3 are free). All proceeds benefit adults with developmental disabilities.

Call 530-622-4848 for more information, along with chili competition and car show applications.

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Barrel Tasting and Harvest Picnic at Sierra Vista Winery

On Saturday September 8, from noon until 4 p.m., Sierra Vista Winery will be offering barrel samples of their 2010 Syrah Ancient Vine Reserve, 2010 Old Clone Zinfandel, and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Ancient Vine Reserve. Unlike some barrel samples, these wines are finished blends ready for bottling.

Also, enjoy an afternoon of wine and a delicious picnic of barbecue chicken with pasta salad of tomato, kalamata olive and mozzarella cheese, along with a black bean, red pepper and corn salad all paired deliciously with the Fall new releases.

The cost is $6 to non-club members. Space is limited, so RSVP by today, August 31, to 530-622-7221.

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Miraflores Parings

This Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2, the chef for Miraflores Winery’s Pairings will be Gabriel Glasier, Executive chef at Maranello Restaurant in Fair Oaks.

The cost is $30 for club members and $40 for non-club members.

You can make a reservation for anytime between 11 and 3 both days. They start your delicious meal when you get there.

For more information call 530-647-8505.

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Celebrate the Day

Birthdays you can celebrate today: Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori (1870); American writer of Armenian descent, William Saroyan (1908); editor of “The New Yorker” for 35 years, William Shawn (1907); actors James Coburn (1928), G. D. Spradlin (1920), Jack Thompson (1940), Chris Tucker (1972) and Noble Willingham (1931); singers Debbie Gibson (1970), Van Morrison (1945) and Glenn Tilbrook (1957); comedian and actor Buddy Hackett (1924); violinist Itzhak Perlman (1945) and journalist Daniel Schorr (1916). It is also the anniversary of the Klondike Eldorado Gold Discovery in 1896.
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